I want to install a chandelier in a bathroom. Do I need to take extra steps to ensure it won't be damaged by moisture?


I want to install a chandelier in a bathroom. Do I need to take extra steps to ensure it won't be damaged by moisture?

Asked by Gloria Herring

I want to install a regular chandelier in my bathroom. Do I need to do anything to insure it won't be damaged by moisture?

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David Bergman's picture

Though there are some eco implications of your question (and we'll get to those in a moment), at itscore, this isn't really a green home issue so much as one of building safety.

  • And before addressingthat, we'd need to know where in the bathroom the chandelier would be installed?
  • There are somevery specific electrical code requirements dealing with lights above or near bathtubs and showers.
  • Asuspended light fixture, e.g. a chandelier, must be at least 3' horizontally and 8' vertically from the rimof a bathtub or the threshold of a shower. That may put a crimp in your plans right off the bat.

Use a fixture approved for damp locations

If your chandelier location meets those requirements, then I think you'd need to address common sensepoints such as whether water or humidity could cause deterioration or rust or, even more critically,could create a condition where anyone might be exposed to current.

Your best solution to that is use afixture that is approved for either damp or wet locations.

Creating an inviting, relaxing atmosphere?

So where's the green home part of this dilemma?I'm going to go out on a limb here and conjecture thatwhat you're looking to do is create an inviting, relaxing atmosphere for bathing. A beautiful chandeliercould certainly do that.

(If that's what you're into, that is.I might worry that my towels - or me - are notdressed up enough to meet the chandelier's standards. Which is perhaps retribution for the fact that thechandelier may not be up to building code standards. But I digress.)

  • Most chandeliers, particularly the traditional type, are not going to use energy efficient bulbs.
  • You canrelamp with tiny compact fluorescents but, and I hate to admit, the look isn't the same, especially ifyou want to be able to dim them for that calm bath.
  • You can also now find LED bulbs that will fit inchandelier sockets. There you'll have the opposite problem; though the technology is evolving almostdaily, they still aren't very bright. But perhaps that's okay for a romantic bathroom experience.

Adventurous solutions

Part of what the green component comes down to is: how often will that chandelier be turned on?

  • Is itgoing to be the primary light for the bathroom? If so, it certainly should be (and may be required to be)energy efficient.
  • If, on the other hand, it's a secondary light used only occasionally, then its efficiencybecomes less important.
  • In other words, the energy savings are less significant when a fixture is lessfrequently used.

Another more adventurous solution might be to look at LED fixtures that use low voltage wiring. (You'llstill have to meet those code requirements.)

Better yet, how about a cool (literally and figuratively)fiber optic fixture in which the electrical parts are remoted to another space entirely? Added attraction:you'll probably be the first on your block to have one. But perhaps you don't want tour groups in yourbathroom.

In a previous post, I ranted a bit against using candles as a substitute form of lighting in the name ofenergy efficiency. This, however, might be an exception to the rant, er, rule. Candle-lit baths (or so Ihear!) may be your ultimate calming experience.